metrics, thy name is vanity

About a year ago I deleted Google Analytics from this website. I no longer know where visitors come from, what they find interesting, or what they click on. This has liberated my thinking and I believe has made my writing a bit better. I always wrote for myself but I would regularly peek at my statistics. Was my viewership going up? What did people read? How did they get there? What search terms were people using? — Who cares?

There are a lot of numbers that ‘social media experts’ will tell you to maximize. But there are few that make any difference. For instance, I put out the word on social media about my social learning workshop: on LinkedIn it had 79 likes and 4,630 views. One of my tweets received 22 link clicks and 5,611 views. But only one metric mattered: registrations. That number was 1. If I kept looking at how often these were shared on social media I might think there was interest in taking my workshop, especially since feedback from participants has been very good. But by focusing on the only real metric, it is obvious that the audience for this workshop is not there. As a result, it is offered less frequently, and is now part of my overall services to companies and organizations.

I had a similar experience in promoting my latest work, Life in Perpetual Beta 2.0. It received 1,548 views on LinkedIn, with 24 likes. Not one of those people who liked the post purchased the book. Let’s face it, likes are cheap. The chasm between shares/likes/retweets and purchase is wide and deep. Not much gets over it.

My major effort will continue to be on writing good articles, engaging in conversations, and looking for people who may be interested in my services. Ignoring vanity metrics will free my mind. For example, I have started a coffee club, where supporters of this blog pay $10 per month. We have a private online space and I host monthly video conferences. Even though this is a small community I know that people here are at least willing to give $10/month. That’s an order of magnitude greater than a like/share/retweet. They deserve my time more than the vanity metrics that may stroke my ego.

While your mileage may vary, I would suggest that most freelancers and small businesses could benefit from ignoring vanity metrics. Stay focused on what matters.


6 Responses to “metrics, thy name is vanity”

  1. Paul J Corney

    Harold what a breath of fresh air. In a world of instant celebrity we are seduced by likes. It matters not as you say. Facebook et al trade on likes but it means nought if they don’t convert to buys. I’ve had so many people who want to befriend and recommend. In the end will they hire you or buy your book? No. We’ve found I the virtual business my wife and I run that it pays to question the veracity of everything thx for writing this!

  2. Helen Blunden

    I agree with this post Harold. Too often, we are told by marketers to create more, publish more, fix our SEO, buy lists to promote our work and in the end – they’re all meaningless. Like you, my work comes in from word of mouth or referrals built through relationships of trust. I’ve tended to ignore follower numbers, likes, follows and shares. It’s comforting to not be able to answer the question “how many followers do you have?” Don’t know. Don’t care. I do find it amusing to watch so called social media influencers still promote this and my LinkedIn threads are filled with these influencers talking about how many likes they have. Meaningless data all of it….

  3. Derek

    While I feel better about having zero followers, I feel despondent from a marketing perspective, having read this article.

    The image I have of social media now is of shouting into the wind.

    LinkediIn has always struck me as a marketplace for flattery and self-aggrandisement. I wondered whether I was merely cynical.

    This is a sober perspective. Thank you, Harold. It is far too easy to waste time on the seductions of vanity.


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